Last year was an interesting year. After deciding I had written all there was for me to say about retirement, I shut down the blog in late April, only to restart things in early July, albeit with a somewhat different focus. Instead of writing exclusively about the various aspects of retirement, a change to Satisfying Journey allowed me to take a look at other topics and things that sparked my interest.
As 2015 came to a close I was interested to see which blog posts were the most read. Would they be ones I had written before the April shutdown, or after the relaunch in July? Or, maybe would there be no discernible difference in appeal. Which topics were most attractive?
Certainly the April stoppage did affect the number of folks who were still around in July. Daily readership fell by 40%. That was to be expected. And, since I write because I enjoy it and am building friendships through the comment/response process, the dip in visits didn't bother me. Even so, I wanted to know which part of the year had the greater appeal to folks.
The most read post of this past year was the April 27 post in which I announced the end (temporarily, as it turned out) of Satisfying Retirement. It also generated comments that ultimately convinced me to sit back down at the keyboard. I missed writing, but I also missed the regular interaction with readers who made me think and helped me on my own retirement journey.
The post just before the one above, was actually the second most popular of the year. Is Retirement an Outmoded Concept raised questions about the viability of retirement in the future. The comments were generally in agreement: retirement is very much alive for our generation, but our kids or grandkids might live in a society where that is not true. We may be heading back to a time where those who are able will work as long as physically or mentally possible, not by choice but by necessity.
The fictional connection between George Harrison's life and mine was the third most-read post. I had just finished a fascinating biography of the former Beatle. He had enjoyed the fruits of being one of the most famous and richest people in the world, only to realize that his life was empty and unfulfilling. He became desperate to get away from being defined only as a Beatle.
He discovered that "money can't buy you love" or contentment, but he couldn't tear himself away from that part of his past. He spent the last several years of his life searching for something that would make him happy and complete.
The remaining Top 10 posts of the year included:
4. Is Financial Security a State of Mind?
5. Another Eat Your Vegetables Article About Retirement
6. Retirement and Your Social Network
7. Life Is What Happens While You are Making Other Plans
8. The Stigma of Being Poor
9. The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Parental Financial Planning
10. Are We Really So Afraid?
What was obvious after completing this project was that several of the most-read posts dealt with typical retirement topics that had been the mainstay of the blog for the five years prior to my shift to a broader, somewhat more personal approach. Even though I make it clear I am not a financial advisor, posts that deal with money and navigating the potentially troubled waters of retirement finance remain very popular. Two of the posts where I opened up the door on some "heavier" subjects (being poor and fearful) also racked up strong readership and comments.
Thinking about 2016, this look back helps me plot a course forward. While posts about my satisfying journey will continue to be part of this blog, clearly readers are not tired of my thoughts on the traditional topics of our finances, health, relationships, living decisions, and travel. That type of post will continue, and probably make up the majority of articles I write. I think you have given me permission to occasionally deal with weightier subjects, too. That is good. Somethings there are things going on in our world I just can't keep quiet about.
If you would, please leave a comment about a topic or area of concern that is of great importance to you. Your input will be quite helpful as I begin to plan for next year.
In the meantime, I hope your holiday season was a good one. I pray that you will find joy, comfort, and well-being in this brand new year. As you read this Betty and I are in Palm Springs for the International Film Festival. I will have some comments on the films we saw when we return in a week or so. But, in the meantime, my reaction to your comments may be a bit delayed since I am in an RV 280 miles from home.